Friday, December 16, 2005

Week 15 picks

Though it's our policy to avoid such end-of-game sports radio blah-blah as "crunch time," "put up or shut up" or "gut check" (unless we're being ironic), sometimes it's impossible not to talk along those lines. If it looks like crunch time, sounds like crunch time and quacks like crunch time, we might as well call it crunch time. So I guess it's more a guideline than a policy, then.

It's crunch time, then, for those of us trying to make a name for ourselves in a quixotic quest to pick as many NFL games as possible. When there's only three weeks left in the season, the typical dynamics go kaplooey as playoff-minded teams have to (sigh) put up or shut up and (groan) leave it all out on the field. My selections for this week are posted on The Writers' Picks over at The Mirl. This week it seems like (gnash, gnash) every game counts. Except Monday Night Football, of course, which hasn't had a meaningful late-season game since Joe Namath was in the booth (hyperbole). On closer inspection, 11 of the 16 games this weekend include at least one serious playoff contender, and in six of those 11, both teams are (oh, all right) in the hunt:
  • Tampa Bay at New England: Remember when the knock on the Buccaneers was that they couldn't win in the cold? Chris Simms played his college ball at Texas, and the coldest weather he's played in as a pro was 52 degrees last week at Carolina. Forecast for Saturday in New England: 37 degrees. I don't know if that means anything. I do expect Tom Brady to play. Even if he doesn't, I close my eyes and pick the Patriots.
  • Kansas City at N.Y. Giants: Chiefs back on the road after a tough loss. Let's hope the wildly swinging Manning pendulum is pointing toward "Good Eli." I hold my nose and pick the Giants.
  • San Diego at Indianapolis: If the Colts are going to lose this year, I think this will be the game. But I still can't pick against them. You go 13-0 -- I don't care who it's against -- you deserve the benefit of the doubt.
  • Pittsburgh at Minnesota: Count me among those saying yeah-but about the Vikings' mighty fishy six-game winning streak. And I'm a Minnesota boy! Steelers, for now.
  • Dallas at Washington: The Redskins' propensity for playing pee-wee girls' soccer rather than NFL football in the second half isn't funny anymore. If the Cowboys score more than 17, they win.
  • Atlanta at Chicago: The Falcons have yet to beat anybody who had a winning record at game time. I'm taking the Bearz.
Updated standings are also up. Down and Distance stands alone in second place in the NFL Guru Division and is tied with one other for sixth place overall. It's gut-check time!

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